Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Exclusive Problem

You all know about Diamond Distribution by now - and the fact that they've got a monopoly on comic book distribution. This is due largely to the fact that they signed contracts with DC and Marvel to be their exclusive distributor to the U.S. Then other publishers followed suit and soon it didn't make sense for people to buy comics from other distributors because the bulk of the comics would come from Diamond anyway, and it's just easier to keep track of orders when you work with one company.

Diamond also has a sister company that distributes games: Alliance Distribution. So far the game industry still has a lot of distributors, and Alliance is just one of them. But, recently Alliance signed an exclusive contract with game maker Wizkids - so now Wizkids games like Heroclix and Pirates are only available through Diamond and it's sister Alliance. This caused quite an uproar in the game industry, and people are still upset about it. The other distributors who supported Wizkids are angry that they were left out of the loop. Game stores that don't have a Diamond or Alliance account were angry because they had to either get an account with them or not get these popular games. But Both Alliance and Wizkids insisted that it was the best thing for EVERYONE.

This week is a big game release - Marvel HeroClix Avengers. Wizkids is making a few changes to the HeroClix games, and the Marvel Avengers set is the first one to have them, so people are interested in checking it out. Knowing that these would be in demand, and that many stores don't get shippments from UPS until hours after they've opened, Alliance said they'd ship out the game a day early to stores, so that we'd have it ready to sell first thing when we opened on Wednesday. This sure seemed surprising from a Diamond company - since they refuse to do anything like that for comics unless you're one of the few accounts that have so many stores that your comics are freighted out on pallets.

Well, guess what, it didn't happen. Our Marvel Avengers HeroClix did NOT show up today via UPS. Our Alliance rep made some excuse about how it was UPS's fault (now that's what a Diamond company would do) and he claims we'll get them tomorrow afternoon when UPS arrives in the afternoon. This is all well good, except that I know I'll have customers come looking for this game in the morning and we won't have it. And, it wouldn't have been so bad if we weren't told we'd get them early.

Now it turns out that it would have been better for us to order them from Diamond instead of it's game arm, Alliance, because at least if we got them from Diamond we'd be picking them up at UPS in the morning instead of waiting until 2 pm for UPS to deliver them.

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